24 March 2022 | Shannen Harte

Each year, we commemorate World Tuberculosis (TB) Day on March 24 to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB, and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic. The date marks the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB, which opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease.

TB remains one of the world's deadliest infectious killers. Each day, over 250 people lose their lives to TB and close to 5000 falls ill with this preventable and curable disease in the Western Pacific Region. Since 2000, an estimated 66 million lives have been saved due to global efforts to combat TB. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has reversed years of progress made in the fight to end TB. For the first time in over a decade, TB deaths increased in 2020. TB is the leading cause of death of people with HIV and a major contributor to antimicrobial resistance.

The theme of World TB Day 2022 - 'Invest to End TB. Save Lives.' -conveys the urgent need to invest resources to ramp up the fight against TB and achieve the commitments to end TB made by global leaders. This is especially critical in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic that has put End TB progress at risk, and to ensure equitable access to prevention and care in line with WHO's drive towards achieving Universal Health Coverage.

More investment will save millions more lives, accelerating the end of the TB epidemic.